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Draft on future UK-EU relationship agreed

This morning (22 November 2018), Donald Tusk tweeted that the draft Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between EU and UK has been agreed at negotiators level and in principle at political level.

I have just sent to EU27 a draft Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between EU and UK. The Commission President has informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the Leaders.

This was later followed with the following statement by Theresa May, outside number 10 Downing Street, who will also make a statement to MPs at 15:00 GMT in the House of Commons.

Throughout these difficult and complex negotiations with the European Union I have had one goal in mind: to honour the vote of the British people and deliver a good Brexit deal. Last week we achieved a decisive breakthrough when we agreed with the European Commission the terms for our smooth and orderly exit from the EU. Alongside that withdrawal agreement we published an outline political declaration setting out the framework for our future relationship.

Last night in Brussels, I had a good, detailed discussion with President Juncker in which I set out what was needed in that political declaration to deliver for the United Kingdom.

We tasked our negotiating teams to continue working overnight and as a result, the text of that declaration has been agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

I have just updated the Cabinet on progress and I will be making a statement to the House of Commons later this afternoon.

This is the right deal for the UK.

It delivers on the vote of the referendum. It brings back control of our borders, our money and our laws. And it does so while protecting jobs, protecting our security and protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom. The agreement we’ve reached is between the UK and the European Commission – it is now up to the 27 leaders of the other EU member states to examine this agreement in the days leading up to the special EU Council meeting on Sunday.

I will be speaking to my counterparts over that time, including meeting Chancellor Kurz of Austria here in Downing Street later today.

Last night I spoke to the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and I am confident that on Sunday we will be able to agree a deal that delivers for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar.

On Saturday I will return to Brussels for further meetings with President Juncker where we will discuss how to bring this process to a conclusion in the interest of all our people.

The British people want this to be settled. They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.

Later, Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted a copy of the letter he had sent to Donald Tusk

Dear Mr President,

On 29th March 2017, Prime Minister May wrote to you notifying the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.

On 14 November, I sent you the text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, for which the Government of the United Kingdom had signalled its approval. On that basis, the Commission recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress had been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement to be cocluded and the next step of the process to be initiated.

It follows from Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, that the agreement with the United Kingdom setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal shall take account of the framework for its future relationship with the European Union.

You will find attached a draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. It has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the Leaders. I also attach the agreed text of Article 132 of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, which was left open in the draft I sent you on the 14 November.

I look forward to our coninued good cooperation on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

2 Enclosures

– Draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the Leaders; and

– Article 132 of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Remarks by President Donald Tusk – 15 November 2018

Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting on 15 November 2018, with Brexit EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier. If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a #EUCO to finalise and formalise the #Brexit agreement on Sunday 25 November at 9h30.

I took good note of Prime Minister May’s statement yesterday. Of course, I don’t share the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm about Brexit as such. Since the very beginning, we have had no doubt that Brexit is a lose-lose situation, and that our negotiations are only about damage control.

Given these extremely difficult circumstances, I would like to thank Michel Barnier and his team, especially Sabine Weyand and Stéphanie Riso, for doing this exceptionally hard work. Michel, we all put a lot of trust in you, and rightly so. You have achieved our two most important objectives. First, you ensured the limitation of the damage caused by Brexit and, second, you secured the vital interests and principles of the 27 member states, and of the European Union as a whole. If I weren’t confident that you did your best to protect the interests of the twenty‑seven, and I am familiar with the essence of the document, I would not propose to formalise this deal.

In the next days, we will proceed as follows. The agreement is now being analysed by all the member states. By the end of this week, the EU27 ambassadors will meet in order to share their assessment of the agreement. I hope that there will not be too many comments. They will also discuss the mandate for the Commission to finalise the Joint Political Declaration about the future relations between the EU and the UK. The European ministers will be involved in this process. The Commission intends to agree the declaration about the future with the UK by Tuesday. Over the following 48 hours, the member states will have time to evaluate it, which means that the EU27 Sherpas should conclude this work on Thursday. Then, if nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting, in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement. It will take place on Sunday 25th November at 9:30.

Finally, let me say this to our British friends. As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, both for you and for us.

Statement by Donald Tusk 16 October 2018

Remarks by President Donald Tusk on 16 October 2018 following the Tripartite Social Summit.


Good afternoon. Let me start by thanking the Social Partners for today’s good and constructive discussions. This Social Summit takes place at a critical time for the Brexit talks. Unfortunately, the report on the state of the negotiations that I got from Michel Barnier today, as well as yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons, give me no grounds for optimism before tomorrow’s European Council on Brexit. And as I see it, the only source of hope for a deal, for now, is the goodwill and determination on both sides. However, for a breakthrough to take place, besides goodwill, we need new facts. Tomorrow, I am going to ask Prime Minister May whether she has concrete proposals on how to break the impasse. Only such proposals can determine if a breakthrough is possible.

While working on a Brexit deal, we also need to make sure, that we are prepared in case an agreement is not possible, or in case it is rejected. Therefore, tomorrow, leaders will discuss how to step up our preparations for a no-deal scenario. But, as I have already stressed: “the fact that we are preparing for a no-deal scenario must not, under any circumstances, lead us away from making every effort to reach the best agreement possible, for all sides.”

Among other things, the European Council will also debate internal security. The latest cyber attack against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, at a time when it was investigating the Salisbury poisoning, shows what new threats we are facing. Therefore, I will propose actions to the leaders that will strengthen our resilience and resolve. It is time the EU got ready for all possible cyber security risks.

The economy is another area where the EU wants to be more resilient. Good progress in reinforcing the Economic and Monetary Union by December is still possible. Even if the tensions among members of the euro area are greater today than they were in June. Therefore, the Euro Summit will discuss how to ensure that we have further progress in reforming the EMU by the end of the year.

For many of the issues discussed during the Social Summit – including migration and security, investments, EMU, digital innovation – the EU budget is key. As Social Partners noted today, the EU budget is also our best lever for promoting social and economic convergence. That is a very important reason why the ongoing MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) discussions must accelerate. And that is why I will give special prominence to the MFF at the December European Council.

Before concluding, I want to recall that today is the first anniversary of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Since then, other journalists have been murdered, also in Europe. And today we are all troubled by reports of the killing of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. And I am absolutely convinced that without a free press, our societies will not be free. This is why I call for a full investigation to establish what happened, and to hold those responsible to account. The violence against journalists has to stop. Thank you.

Questions and answers at the press conference following the Tripartite Social Summit

President Tusk you have called for concrete proposals from Theresa May, proposals on what? If those proposals aren’t forthcoming, what will happen? Lastly, is there going to be a summit in November or not?

The problem is clear: it is the Irish question and the problem with the borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the so called backstop. It looks like a new version of the Gordian knot. Unfortunately, I can not see a new version of Alexander the Great, it is not so easy to find such kind of creative leader. It’s for the leaders to decide if we need an extraordinary summit in November or not. Logistically we are ready but we need also the feeling that we are at least close to a positive breakthrough. What we need today, is to finalise our negotiations. The clock is ticking and I hope that tomorrow, Theresa May will present something creative enough to solve this impasse.

Is it a no deal Brexit now your number one assumption? Is that the most likely scenario in your eyes?

It is a question about our responsibility and not our predictions or our plan. A no deal scenario is more likely than ever before but it does not mean that it becomes our political priority, but quite the opposite. Because the situation is tricky as it is today, we need to prepare for this black scenario. I still believe, it is not only hope but also a rational assessment, that we can find a better solution than a no deal scenario.

Do you think it is realistic to make progress on the Eurozone reform when the Italian government is challenging European rules, European institutions, the markets. Do you fear a new euro crisis because of Italy?

I hope positive progress is still possible. This is why I decided to organize this Euro summit. We have to be realistic and frank. I am aware that the atmosphere is more tricky than it was in June but I think we can use time before December to clarify the positions of some Member States. Our goal remains to have visible progress in December. What we need today is a respectful dialogue between the Commission and Italy.

President Tusk, you want Theresa May to come up with concrete solutions. Is the EU going to think creatively about how to break this impasse too? You mentioned Alexander the Great, Alexander is also the first name of Boris Johnson. Is he a figure that the EU is looking at to rescue this negotiations? Are you even thinking about the next government after Theresa May’s?

To compare Boris Johnson to Alexander the Great is a sort of exaggeration I think, but of course this is my private opinion. Both sides are responsible for this still possible breakthrough. When it comes to this very context, the backstop, we need something fresh in our discussions and to be very clear, because I have heard some comments, sometimes very dramatic comments, one of the authors is also Boris Johnson, that the EU wants to annex economically Northern Ireland and also to split the UK. Of course this is not true. Objectively this is a very difficult and complicated issue. The question of the Irish border is an unfortunate natural and automatic result of the Brexit decision. This is why we need something very creative to protect at the same time our values, the single market and to fully respect the UK and its sovereignty. For me it is clear, the goal must be clear for all of us, but for this we need maybe a new way of thinking because objectively this is something really difficult.

Salzburg Summit – No Deal ?

An informal meeting of EU leaders was held in Salzburg on 19-20 September 2018 to discuss internal security, migration and Brexit.

It was hosted by Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Council. Donald Tusk, President of the European council chaired the meeting and together with Jean-Claude Juncker President of the European Commission represented the EU.

Prior to the meeting, Donald Tusk made the following statement on Brexit negotiations:

The Brexit negotiations are entering their decisive phase. Various scenarios are still possible today, but I would like to stress that some of Prime Minister May’s proposals from Chequers indicate a positive evolution in the UK’s approach as well as a will to minimise the negative effects of Brexit. By this I mean, among other things, the readiness to cooperate closely in the area of security and foreign policy. On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic cooperation, the UK’s proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated. Today there is perhaps more hope, but there is surely less and less time. Therefore, every day that is left, we must use for talks. I would like to finalise them still this autumn. This is why, at tomorrow’s meeting of the twenty-seven, I will propose calling an additional summit around mid-November.

During dinner on the 19 September, the Prime Minister was graciously allowed 10 minutes to present her plan, agreed by the cabinet and known as the Chequers Deal, to the other 27 EU Leaders. They will not engage directly in negotiations with the PM in order to preserve the role of Michel Barnier as their chief negotiator.

The meeting ended with a working lunch on the 20 September, in an EU27 format to discuss Brexit. This was an opportunity to review progress in the talks with the UK and to discuss the way forward.

Donald Tusk made a statement, at the end of the meeting, during which he included the following comment on Brexit negotiations:

At our EU27 working lunch today we had a good discussion on Brexit, which once again reconfirmed our full unity. Let me highlight three points.

First, we reconfirmed that there will be no Withdrawal Agreement without a solid, operational and legally binding Irish backstop. And we continue to fully support Michel Barnier in his efforts to find such a model.

Second, we agreed to have a joint political declaration that provides as much clarity as possible on the future relations. Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work. Not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.

Third, we also discussed the timetable for further negotiations. The moment of truth for Brexit negotiations will be the October European Council. In October we expect maximum progress and results in the Brexit talks. Then we will decide whether conditions are there to call an extraordinary summit in November to finalise and formalise the deal.

Theresa May appealed directly to her European counterparts to drop unacceptable Brexit demands that she warned could rip Britain apart, urging the bloc to respond in kind to her serious and workable plan.

We both agree that there can be no withdrawal agreement with no legally operative backstop. But that backstop cannot divide the UK into two customs territories, and we will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly

So with the rejection by the EU of Theresa May’s Chequers Plan it is now looking more likely for the UK to leave the EU without any agreed plan for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. It would also mean any formal Withdrawal Agreement between the 2 sides which would also be abandoned.

The hardline approach being taken by the EU indicates the desire to punish the UK for leaving in an attempt to dissuade other members from following the same path.

Leader after leader lined up to reject the key elements of the Chequers plan and there appears to have been a coordinated “ambush” on Theresa May by fellow leaders to brief against her at the end of the conference. Donald Tusk even mocking Theresa May with a quip concerning “cherries and cake” on his instagram account.

The European Council May 2016 to June 2018

Striving for unity: The European Council, May 2016 to June 2018, report by President Donald Tusk. This report details the work of the European Council, where the leaders of the European Union meet, from May 2016 to June 2018.

Striving for unity: The European Council, May 2016 to June 2018, report by President Donald Tusk

The report shows how the Union’s political unity was maintained and strengthened in the face of multiple threats and challenges: unprecedented migratory pressures, shifts in geopolitics, a sustained terror threat, an uncertain economic outlook and the decision by British voters to leave.

From 2016 to the present, Europe’s leaders have remained united on the fundamental issues, from the withdrawal negotiations with the United Kingdom to standing together against external threats, whether it is Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine or fundamental challenges to the global trading system.

Due to a strong belief in the Union as the framework for member states’ common future, Europe remains a positive point of reference for the world, from championing the Paris Agreement to combat climate change to promoting the rules-based international order with free and fair trade at its centre.

Internally, the EU needs to invest more in the protection of our people against security threats, illegal migration and uncontrolled globalisation. Tough negotiations continue to limit the damage to citizens, businesses and member states arising from the UK’s departure on 29 March 2019.

And there is still much to do to strengthen economic and monetary union, advance co-operation on defence issues and develop a sensible, crisis-resilient migration policy.

EuropeanCouncilMay16toJune18 (pdf)